Monday, 21 December 2009

The Missed Peace III: Barak and Syria

In 1948, Syria won land that gave it access to the Sea of Galilee.[1] The 1948 war had two stages: the first stage (which was mostly a civil war between the Palestinians and the Jews) and second stage where the Arab nations invaded Palestine.[2] The first stage began after it was clear that Palestinians had rejected the UN Partition Plan.[3] The first stage was initiated by the Arabs and the Jewish forces remained largely defensive for the first phase of the first stage.[4] The second stage was also initiated by the Arabs.[5] Essentially, this was not a war of self-defence on the part of the Arabs or the Palestinians.[6]

In 1967, Israel launched a war in which it gained territory three times the size of its 1949 borders. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, 242. This is not a binding resolution.[7] However, there is a statement which reflects international law and is held on to closely by all the Arab regimes. “The inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”[8] In an aggressive war, this doctrine isn’t disputed.[9] Part of the reason for calling for a withdrawal of Israel from West Bank is because it is there illegally and that it cannot take land that does not belong to it by force.

Yet the same principle isn’t applied to Syria. Syria entered a war aggressively and won land that gave it access to Sea of Galilee. It has no right over such land.[10] There are two borders: the 1923 International Border and the June 4th lines. The latter gives it access to the Sea. If the principle were applied to Syria, then there would have to be a return to the 1923 lines.

When Barak came to power in 1999, he offered the Syrians a withdrawal based on the June 4th lines but that would not give them access to the Sea.[11] Even though Syria had no claim to the extra-territory, Barak offered exchanges so that Syria would be getting 100% of the land mass they wanted.[12] A national park in which sovereignty would not be given to either party would be offered for the area adjacent to the Sea (thereby encroaching on Israeli land). Syria rejected this.[13] They rejected it on the grounds that it didn’t give them access to the sea.

This was also offered in 1967.[14] It was rejected then as well. The inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force is a principle that people should held consistently. Hypocrisy thy name is Syria.


[2] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.191 (Vintage, 2001)

[3] Ibid, p.186, 1948, Benny Morris, p.76 and One Palestine, Complete, Tom Segev 498-501

[4] Righteous Victims, Morris, p.196

[5] Ibid, p.218-20

[6] Norman Finkelstein, quoting Zeev Maoz says that this is the one war, according to him, that can be considered a war of self-defence on the part of the Israelis. (Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis ofIsrael's Security and Foreign Policy, Zeev Maoz)

[7] UNSC 242 is a Chapter VI resolution: these are not binding international law. Chapter VII, however, are binding international law. For more on the distinction, see Israel and Iraq: United Nations Double Standards –UN Charter Article 25 and Chapters VI and VII, Gerald M. Adler

[8] UNSC 242

[9] War, Aggression and Self-Defence, Yoram Dinstein, p.168-72

[10] The 1923 border was established in ‘Agreement between His Majesty's Government and the French Government respecting the Boundary Line between Syria and Palestine from the Mediterranean to El Hámmé’ – in this agreement there were some reservations made about the water usage. However, this is largely irrelevant as this does not give them sovereignty over such areas.

[11] and Israel and Palestine, Avi Shlaim, p.271

[12] Ibid, p.271

[13] Footnote 1, 11, 12

[14] and also The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p.254

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Bamboozlement Update

This post is an update from 'Palestinian Bamboozlement'. It is an assessment of how many Palestinians have been killed since 1881. The Israeli/Arab numbers do not reflect official numbers from the respective parties (unless stated in the footnotes). The Israeli numbers represent the lowest possible number from the historical literature and the Arab number represent the highest. The 'Personal' numbers reflect the most objective number possible for the event- justification is given in the footnotes.

For a larger version, click here

The changes are simply adding the numbers for 1967-1987 in territories, the numbers from 1881-1920 and adapting some numbers from Arab revolt (reasons for which can be found in corresponding footnotes). There are also two other numbers:

Arab Numbers Includes Sabra and Chalita [102]


Arab Numbers Includes Sabra and Chalita and unverified massacres given by Palestine Liberation Army Publication[103]


And in comparison to other conflicts again:

The most shocking one is Sri Lanka, during the same period of the Gaza hostilities, it didn't receive nearly as much as the conflict in Gaza did even though it had one-third of the deaths of the whole Israel-Palestinian conflict from 1920 - 2009 (using the highest number). How does the UN react? Israel has had 249 UNGA Resolutions since 1997. Sudan has received less than 14 (note, that over 1 million have been killed between the '80s and 2003). What about Sri Lanka? Nowhere near 249. In fact, they had a resolution passed by the UNHRC praises and congratulates them. [107]

I have not included the 1947 Jerusalem Riots because the first deaths to of the First Arab-Israeli war were the Jews that were killed on the 30th December 1947, the deaths inflicted on 2nd of December were therefore included in the 1948 war number (i.e. as a result of the Irgun bomb)[74] I have not included the"Arab Al-Azazmeh" Massacre” of 1950 because these were Bedouin.[75] The figure is 13[76] I have not included theDier Ayyoob killings of 1954 because it is only the PLA source which is backed up byPalestinian Encyclopaedia – one died according to these sources.[77] I have not included the 1955 February Gaza Raidbecause all causalities were Egyptian[78] The supposed ‘massacre’ claimed by the PLA in Arab Al-Azazmeh in 1955 can not be substantiated by any other source; they don’t even know the whole story[79]. I am not including: Qalqilya Raid of 1956 where 83 died[80] because they were all Jordanian[81] - the same goes for the September Raids (11th, 13th and 25th) – in all around 67 died.[82]I have not included the Kafr Qasim Massacre of 1956 because those who died were Israeli Arabs[83] and although many classify them as Palestinian, I do not. The lowest number was 43[84] and the highest 52[85] – other number included 47[86], 48[87] and 49[88] - I would have accepted 49 because 1) it comes from Morris, 2) the highest number comes from a ‘PLA’ source. Regarding the 1982 Lebanon War, one source that was given ‘Secondary Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century’ does give seemingly higher figures however: they aren’t deaths. One figure given by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society is 27,000 but this included wounded (hence ‘k[illed] + w[ounded]). Another figure is that given by An Nahar, which states ’48,028’ – but this again is killed and wounded (as seen by 1) “included 17,825 k[illed,” 2) The previous An Nahar number being 17,825 being killed and 3) this figure would frankly be ridiculous – if Morris calls 19,000 a “vast exaggeration,” then over 40,000 is absurd). Sabra and Shatilia (1982) is not included because they were killed by Lebanese Christians, the number killed is the hardest number to reach, the IDF say up to 800, and some as high as 3,500. I would have accepted Fisk’s 1,700 (based on the 1,300 number given by al-Hout as a minimum). I will however incorporate this number, given Ariel Sharon’s part in the final results.Operation Accountability of 1993 is not included as all 118 civilians who were killed were Lebanese.[89] I have not included Operation Grapes of Wrath of 1996 (which includes the Qana bombing) because it seems to have been all Lebanese casualties as opposed to Palestinian. Indeed, all sources either say “civilians”[90] or “Lebanese”[91] The lowest number for the whole operation found was 151[92] and the highest 170[93] (others included 154[94]) - although what’s interesting is the difference in the number who died at a Qana; “approximately 100,”[95] “102,”[96] “103,”[97] “105,”[98]“possible as many as 100,”[99] “an estimated 100 people,”[100] “107/8”[101] – if I had to add this into the table, I would have accepted the 102 figure as most ambiguously state around 100 and the 102 figure is accepted by Amnesty, B’tselem and Avi Shlaim.

[1] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris : 1, p.40; 1,p.47; 1,p.53, 1,p.62; 1,p.65; “dozens” – 24, p.93. Not including deaths on p.94 which seem to be Arabs from the Golan (and thus Syrian).

[2] Number based on Survey of Palestine, volume 1, p.17. This could easily be said to be 0 as the protection was given by the British who tried to stop Arabs entering the Jewish quarter. Indeed, they declared “martial law” and troops disarmed both sides (the Haganah being present) - Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (p.96, Vintage, 1999) – However, there is no basis for this.

[3] There are no other exact figures available – Morris (p.96, Righteous Victims, Vintage 1999) says “several,” Gilbert (Israel: A History, p.43, Black Swan, 2007) mentions only Jewish causalities and Sachar says “a number” of both Arabs and Jews had been killed (A History of Israel, p.123, Knopf, 2007). One source, supposedly, gives the same number – I, however, do not have access to it (Segev, One Palestine Complete, p.127-144, 2003)

[4] Survey of Palestine, volume 1, p.17

[5] A History of Israel, Sachar (p.123, Knopf, 2007), Righteous Victims, Morris (p.102, Vintage 1999) and alsoFoundations of civil and political rights in Israel and the occupied territories, Yvonne Schmidt (p.68, footnote 143, 2001). From the last source, it appears it is a government figure from the Haycraft Commission and also Survey of Palestine, volume 1, p.18. There seems to be no dispute/other figures available. All of the aforementioned say 48. The extra 3 added on comes from a clash that occurred in November (Righteous Victims, Morris (p.102, Vintage 1999)

[6] This number is based on the 87 Arab deaths given by Sachar (A History of Israel, p.175, Knopf, 2007) and Gilbert (Israel: A History, p60, Black Swan, 2007) and then Gilbert, on p.60, says that the 87 Arabs were “mostly” shot by British troops, I have interpreted this as a conservative 60% - this may change depending on leanings. This is also supported by History of Palestine, Gudrun Kramer, p.232 (Princeton University Press, 2008) who says that “majority of Arabs fell due to British counter-measures”

[7] I will accept the Arab number for this, however, I will accept Gilbert’s evaluation that “most” (here interpreted as 60%) were killed by British Palestine Police, which would leave us with 46. The reason for accepting the number given by Morris (footnote 3) is because there seems to be basis (British report) and also much wider consensus (Morris, Wasserstein (p.237, 1991), Sela (p64-71, 1994) [Both quoted from Morris, p.700, footnote 249] and A Survey of Palestine, vol. I, p. 24). Gilbert’s foundation that “most” were killed by the British, seems to be reinforced through the fact that the Shaw Report says that “in few instances” Jews attacked Arabs, it goes on to say that when they did occur, they were retaliatory. It should also be noted that this figure changes: 87, 116 but also 110 (BBC figure:

[8] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (p.116), this seems to be a British endorsed number (A Survey of Palestine, vol. 1, p24 – put together by the Mandate government under Shaw (who headed the report in to the 1929 riots) – to hold this number, you would have to assume that all killed were killed by Israelis.

[9] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (p.159, Vintage, 1999) puts lowest number at 3,000 – if the Jews didn’t kill the majority of them, this would be a justified number.

[10] Considering that one historian puts the figure of Arabs who killed one another at 4,500 and the figure is between 3-6,000 (ibid, p.159) and also between ’36-’37, most deaths were caused by the British (ibid, p.147) I feel this is a justified number. It should be emphasised that Sachar came up with 3,000+. Also, an Al Jazeera number is given at 5,000 making my figure more acceptable:

[11] Ibid, p.159

[12] Ibid, p.248, Sachar (personal correspondence dated 12/07/2009)

[13] The numbers given by Howard Sachar are more objective than that by the Palestinian former leadership)

[14] Al-Husseini (quoted from Ibid, p.248, he actually says “about” 12,000 were killed)

[15] Israel’s Border Wars, Benny Morris (p.147, Oxford University Press, 1997)

[16] While a pro-Israeli could argue that this number is inflated because the statistics do not distinguish between Palestinians and generic-Arabs, the fact they 90% (The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p82, Penguin, 2001) were motivated by economic factors (meaning poverty – which would have been predominant among Palestinians) suggests that it would be very near this number. Also the fact Morris says “perhaps as many” leads me to suggest that it is not as large as 5,000. It must be noted that 2,700 is a number given by Morris.

[17] Israel’s Border Wars, Benny Morris (p.147, Oxford University Press, 1997)

[18] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army, p.32 (2002) – surprisingly.

[19] Israel’s Border Wars, Benny Morris (p.206, Oxford University Press, 1997) figures of between 12-14 werereported – given that an Arab source says 10, 12 is reasonable.

[20] Israel’s Border Wars, Benny Morris (p.206, Oxford University Press, 1997)

[21] Israel’s Border Wars, Benny Morris (p.215, Oxford University Press, 1997)

[22] Morris beats the objectivity of “The Zionist Massacres” and the source given in it ‘Who are the Terrorists’

[23] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army, p.32 (2002)

[24] Based on the number of people that died on 22 April according to Morris (p.277)

[25] This number is based on the ten killed on 22 April, found here:

[26] – the dates mean that this does include the Mayor killed at Falameh

[27] – confirmed by UN beats below.


[29] The Palestine Question, Henry Cattan, p.126, Routledge (1987)

[30] The fact that Morris’ number is vague and that two other authorities provide definitive numbers means that I will accept 69.

[31] Israel: A History, Martin Gilbert, p292, Black Swan, 2007 and also A History of Israel, Sachar (p.444, Knopf, 2007)

[32] – Jordanian claimed vs. confirmed.

[33] There were 9 deaths, 3 Arab Legion fighters and 5 National Guards – only 1 woman died. The two former are Jordanian and not Palestinian -

[34] The Arab Legion fighters are definitely Jordanian also, they were 5, not 15 of them (see above, and also Support Any Friend, Warren Bass, p.39 – doesn’t go over 9 for the amount killed, i.e. matches figures above as does Morris, Border Wars, p.315) – as I do not whether Palestinians served on the National Guard, I will assume they did (this is after all pragmatic) so 1 woman + 5 National Guards.

[35] A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mark Tessler, p.801, footnote 27: 14 National Guards + 3 Arab Legion fighters + 1 woman (see above for last two)

[36] Given that the lowest number is 56 (Sachar, p.488), and that one source describes all causalities as ‘Egyptian’ (Bargaining and Learning, Russel Leng, p.132), I will say that 70% were Palestinians. Thus, 70% of 56 = 39.

[37] Although Gilbert is an authority, the evidence seems to outweigh him: Morris (Righteous Victims, p.287), Sachar (p.488), Brecher and Wikenfield (Study of Crisis, p.274) and even the PLA do not go over 60 (p.35) – thus, I used Morris’ figure and then assumed 70% were Palestinian (see above source to see why this is reasonable).

[38] Israel: A History, p.311, Black Swan, 2007

[39] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.35

[40] Bargaining and Learning, Leng, p.132. If he uses Sachar as a source for the first raid, it would be 56 – 116 = 60.

[41] The following number all come from ibid, p424. UN Number: 447-550 – the disputed number killed in Rafah entry (this is put by official Israel numbers at 48-49 – the “contemporary Palestinian number” is actually 100 and I will assume this is included in the UN report considering it is based on Palestinian witnesses (ibid, p425, footnote 23)) – So, pro-Israelis could argue that the UN number is off by 52, which would mean 395 (48 killed – 100 = 52 – 447)

[42] Ibid, p.424 – I have chosen this as a personal number as well because there are no other sources confirming lower. Morris believes this number includes the Feyadeen killed in the invasion.

[43] Six Days of War, Michael Oren, p.34 and also Israel: A History, Martin Gilbert, p.364.

[44] The Arab number is wrong: 1) Official Jordanian Documents says that no more than 5 civilians were killed, the rest were Jordanian soldiers (Arab Politics, Moshe Shemesh, p.86) 2) Finklestein says that 18 Jordanian Soldiers died (Image and Reality, p.124) - he is also wrong – Jordan said 15, as do Gilbert and Oren.

[45] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.41

[46] December 20, 1967: 20, Feb. 24, 1969: 3, April 24, 1970: 5, Jun. 27, 1970: 2, August, 1970: 1 + 2, Sept. 8, 1972: 59, October, 1972: 2 + 60, December, 1972: 3, Jun, 1974: 100, Nov, 1974: 3, Dec. 12, 1974: 1, 1975: July: 20, Aug: 12, Sept.: 2, Dec. 2: 92, 1978: Aug and Dec: 7, April 1979: 4, May 1979: 4, Jun 18, 1979: 10 – based on - only those which explicitly refer to Palestinian deaths or Palestinian camp strikes have been included.

[47] Arabs at War, Pollack, p.334 (University of Nebraska Press) – it actually says “about 100”

[48] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (p.369, Vintage, 1999). The reason for accepting this number is that it seems credible because it is given by Morris and it seems reasonable considering the distance between the two. Another reason for rejecting the Arab/Israeli figure is because another source (A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mark Tessler, p.425) says “as many as 170” Palestinians were killed – meaning both more than 100 and less than 200.

[49] Arab-Israeli Wars, Herzog, p.205, (1987) – this source cannot be verified.


[51] The BBC article says “at least,” and PLA source is higher than that given by Lebanese and Palestinian sources (Witness from the Pulpit, Saperstein, p.308, footnote 10) so that can be disregarded. The only definitive, reasonable number comes from Farid El-Khazen’s The Breakdown of a State in Lebanon 1967-1976, p.233, footnote 21 – which is 40.

[52] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.42

[53] Morris, Righteous Victims, p.384, Vintage 1991 – there were 8 Highjackers killed, 2 were German (Kuhulmann and Bose).

[54] More than just the operation, see below.

[55] See the footnote after the next – but take away Khalf, the dozens of guards who may have been Lebanese (Palestinian source, says that only 4 Palestinians died: 4 + 11 [3 killed + 8 guards] – there seems to be no evidence suggesting that they are not Palestinians.

[56] This is one of dodgiest numbers created – it is based on the Arab figures but then some taken away for nationality. This should not be used as definitive.

[57] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.381-2, Vintage, 1999: a guard, Adwan, Nassir, Najjar and his wife. The “dozens” killed at the second dispatch (interpreted as 24), Boudia (June, 1973), Salameh and 8 others (1979) -, Abu Daoud (1981) and Abu Iyad (1991)

[58] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.501, Vintage, 1999

[59] Morris’ number says Palestinian civilians as opposed to Ron who says civilians. Along with this, in his footnote (40, p.723) he says that Israel committed small number of atrocities “involving only a handful of civilians” but he goes on to say that Israel-aligned Christian Militia carried out dozens of slaughters – this leads me to believe that 1) Ron’s figure includes Lebanese and 2) may include killings carried out by Sa’ad and his men (indeed, he says “the effort” which implies the Israeli aligned Christians)

[60] Frontiers and Ghettos, James Ron, p.175, University of California Press, 2003

[61] This number is based on 1,000 PLO Troops dying and the Israeli official figure of “hundreds” (Morris, Righteous Victims, p.558, Vintage 1991)

[62] This is a very hard number to calculate. Morris says that “no accurate or reliable figure exists” – This number is worked out based on the fact that the number of PLO killed given by Morris (ibid, p558) and AP ( is 1,000. AP say that ’19,000+’ Lebanese and Palestinian civilians died, and a Lebanese Police Report says 19,085. These numbers are a “vast exaggeration” (Morris, p.558 – this applies to AP ipso facto), – Thus I will use Robert Fisk’s number: 17,000 (Great War For Civilisation, p329, Harper Perennial 2006). As I don’t have statistics on how many were Palestinians, I will assume that 60% were – this would leave us with the figure of 10,200. I will then take the 1,000 number for the amount of PLO dead (this is supported by Morris and AP) and thus get 11,200.

[63] This number is based on the PLO deaths given by Gilbert (p.512) and a Lebanese Police report which stated that 19,085 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed. Thus you would have to assume all deaths were suffered by Palestinians (unlikely) – Morris, Righteous Victims, p.558, Vintage 1991.


[65] 1983: Nov: 60, 1984: Aug + Nov = 107, 1985: July: 24 + 4, Oct: 4, 1986: Jan: 5, March: 15, April: 2, July: 1, Sept: 3 + 7, Oct: 4, Nov. : 2 + 11, 1987: Feb: 13, May: 1 + 1, Sept: 41, 1988: Jan: 20, Nov: 4 - Based on - only those which explicitly refer to Palestinian deaths or Palestinian camp strikes have been included.

[66] Necessary Illusions, Noam Chomsky, p.118 (surprisingly)

[67] Legum would have been sufficient to override Chomsky, but Sachar just seals the deal.

[68] Middle East Contemporary Survey, Colin Legum et al, p.91 (and Sachar, p.962: “at least 60” but he says ‘PLO Officials’)

[69] This number is calculated using the B’tselem numbers for 1987 – 2008 (see footnote below) and then the official Israeli figure for the Gaza hostilities, found here: and then added together with the figures for 1967-1987 (taken from Israel’s Occupation, Neve Gordon, p.xvii, University of California Press, 2008) which is 650. (This number is added on for the two below as well)

[70] While there are discrepancies within the PCHR, the amount killed doesn’t seem to be properly addressed in the official Israel number.

[71] This number is based on B’tselem numbers and then PCHR numbers for the 2009 Gaza hostilities

1987 – 2000 : 1376 + 33 = 1409

2000 – 2008: 3004 -

PCHR: 1417 -

1409 + 3004 = 4413 + 1417 = 5,830 + 650 from ’67-‘87


[73] Based on above + 1 other death: – however the web page cannot be accessed and so it can be denied (hence the Israeli number of two). However, I do not doubt the veracity of the claim.

[74] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.190, Vintage, 1999: he describes the Jews killed in the riots as “the first casualties of the first Arab-Israeli war”

[75] A History of Israel, Sachar (p.449, Knopf, 2007)

[76] Ibid, p.449 and also The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.31

[77] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.34

[78] The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p.124 , Penguin, 2001 and Britain, Israel and Anglo-Jewry, Natan Adrian, p.161 and The 1956 War, David Tal, p.4 – one source, PLA publication, says that “Palestinian and Egyptian blood is mixed in this massacre” but this is 1) PLA and 2) outweighed by aforementioned.

[79] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.34

[80] Israel and American National Interest, Rubenberg, p.57

[81] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.711, footnote 79, Vintage, 1999.

[82] Ibid, p.711, footnote 79.

[83] Righteous Victims, Morris, p.295 and Keeping the Peace, Daniel Byman, p.60

[84] A History of Israel, Sachar (p.536, Knopf, 2007)

[85] The Zionist Massacres, Palestine Liberation Army 2002, p.39

[86] Keeping the Peace, Daniel Byman, p.60

[87] Memory and violence in the Middle East and North Africa By Ussama Samir Makdisi, Paul A. Silverstein, p.103

[88] Righteous Victims, Morris, p.295

[89] Amnesty, Israel/Lebanon: Unlawful Killings During Operation Grapes of Wrath, 1996 – can be found here:

[90] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.639, Vintage, 1999; A History of Israel, Sachar (p.1012, Knopf, 2007) – he says “102 people” but then goes on to say “154 civilians” (in the whole operation) – no sources I have found say anything about Palestinian civilians. While there would have been Palestinians in the area, given that many southern Lebanese fled and sought refuge, it seems reasonable that all the victims are Lebanese.

[91] Israel: A History, Martin Gilbert, p.594 (Black Swan, 2007). Also see footnotes relating to Qana below.

[92] Surprisingly, this comes from – which seems like an anti-Israeli website, this source also uses the 107 number for Qana

[93] ICRC Annual Report of 1996, from 1997 and can be found here:

[94] A History of Israel, Sachar (p.1012, Knopf, 2007) – something that should put this and other numbers into perspective is the fact that a Lebanese source gives the same number in the B’tselem 2000 Report ‘Israel Violations of Human Rights of Lebanese Civilians’ (p.49)


[96] The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p.560 , Penguin, 2001 and Amnesty ( B’tselem (


[98] Israel: A History, Martin Gilbert, p.594 (Black Swan, 2007)

[99] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris (p.639, Vintage, 1999).

[100] UN Report;

[101] Etel Adnan: Critical Essays, Lisa Majaj, p.112, footnote 1 (McFarland & Co Inc 2002) – what’s odd about this source is that one the same page, the number 108 is used, yet in the footnote she uses 107. They both seem to have some sort of backing: (108) and

[102] - has basis because of al-Hout’s comparative lists which listed a minimum of 1,300

[103] Beit Jala Massacre on January 11th (The one in the confirmed graph is on January 6), 7 died. I suspect a conflation of some sort. Jerusalem Massacre of June 7th: 300 killed – yet I can find no Palestinian casualties of the Six Day War. Rafah Refugee Massacre, June 1967: 23 killed. Al-Karama Massacre 20 July 1967 which killed 14 and Al-Karama Massacre on 9 February 1968 which, also, killed 14.

[104] All figures come from: and

[105] This number is just for Kabul bombing by Hekmatyar and just civilians. Ibid, p.142.



Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Missed Peace II: UN Partition Plan

The majority proposal by UNSCOP is often citied as one of the “opportunities to miss an opportunity” by the Palestinians.[1] But was it? The proposal put down that the Jews would get 55% of the land, the Arabs would get 42% and the around 3% was to be the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area under a corpus separatum to be governed under UN Trusteeship Council.[2] The area that was allotted to each side were determined by the Jewish state having as few Arabs as possible and the Arab state having as few Jews as possible – i.e. demographics.[3] However, it also took account of contiguity and, for the Jewish state, immigrant absorbent capacity.[4]


The plan looks reasonable but then comes the fact that the Jewish state had 45% Arab population.[5] The population of Mandatory Palestine in its entirety was only 37% Jewish, meaning that the majority of the population was being denied what they wanted: a one state solution (or so it is presumed).[6] The question of morality and democracy arises. But the answer is plain: there was no other alternative. The only other option was the unitary state. However, the Committee had determined the need for two separate states. A unitary state would have led to a complete halt to immigrant absorption and probably to the complete lack of rights afforded to the Jews.[7] The Arab minority in the proposed Jewish state would also become less of the population because of the expected immigration. There is also another problem in saying that the whole of the Mandatory should have been allotted what they wanted: where do you draw the line? In a stateless area, everyone’s voice should be heard according to specific areas. The same principle applies to what is/has happened in Northern Ireland – sure the whole of Ireland wants it to be unified but the majority of those in Northern Ireland do not. It is more democratic to assign majority positions in certain areas than it is denying them. It is no surprise that the international community shunned the minority report (Resolution 181[I]).

There are still questions of fairness though: the Jews only owned 7% of the total land available (the Arabs owned 20%).[8] This point largely doesn’t take into account that the remaining land was state-owned land – meaning that 73% of Mandate Palestine’s land was to be inherited to the state that would accept it. It also fails to understand that the issue isn’t private land, but sovereignty – the Arabs in the Jewish state were not having lands taken away from them.

The final point is the Negev. Why would the Jews be given an area where there were practically no Jews in?[9] The simple answer is immigrant absorption, aside from the fact that the Negev was sparsely populated.[10] But is that moral? This question heavily relies on your ideology: Zionists would say yes; the Arabs had been allotted Jordan and had vast areas of other Arab lands and Zionism was worth this price. However, this question becomes largely redundant when we consider the responses.


The Arabs said no.[11] They even walked out of the General Assembly when they had lost the vote.[12] It wasn’t a matter of the Negev, or even the percentages of land that was going to be given. They wanted all of Palestine.[13] As Tom Segev explains;

In any case, still hostage to the rejectionist position they had adopted in 1917, they opposed partition and continued to demand independence in all of Palestine, promising to respect the rights of the Jewish minority.[14]

The Arab response was wrong, not only because the partition was arguably fair but because they completely flouted the idea of partition – based on any lies. Indeed, this was expected: they had already turned down 80%.[15] They had also missed a tactical opportunity to regroup.[16]

The Jewish response is much more complex. They officially accepted the plan and rejoiced at it.[17] However, the question remains how sincere it was. Tom Segev maintains that it was a “tactical step” and that everyone knew that the borders that were assigned could not stay the way they were.[18] This was true, considering that the Arab response was expected – Ben-Gurion knew war would ensue.[19] However, Ben-Gurion’s response was more “sincere” and even though he didn’t accept fully the border, he only wanted to make minor defensible changes.[20] It should be noted that Ben-Gurion only wanted changes in war. Meaning that it is unknown whether Ben-Gurion would have taken any steps to expand if the Arabs had accepted.

The question of whether the UN Partition Plan was a missed peace depends on (1) it being a reasonable deal (at the time, without hindsight) and (2) it being accepted by one side. I have tried to argue that it was a reasonable deal. Ben-Gurion wanted more than what was allocated to him in the partition but he could only achieve these in war – a war which he did not initiate. The reason I say that this was a missed peace is because the lack of acceptance in the lines was only implemental as a result of war, i.e. Arab rejection. There is also the point that if the Arabs had accepted the plan, Ben-Gurion might have counted his blessings and left things as they were.[21] Thus, another missed peace – even if only temporary.


[2]1948, Benny Morris, p.63 (Yale University Press, 2008)

[3]Ibid., p.47

[4] Ibid., p.47-8


[6] Morris, p.65 – The Arab leadership all declared their idea for a complete unitary government.

[7] One State, Two State, Benny Morris, p.87-109

[8] ‘Details and Lies’ by Benny Morris: “Jews owned about 6 to 7 percent of Palestine's land surface, and the Arabs owned around 20 percent, and the rest was public or state-owned. And, given that no Palestinian Arab state was established, Israel was Mandate Palestine's successor state and heir to the state lands.”

[9] History of Palestine, Gudrun Kramer, p.307 (Princeton University Press, 2008)

[10]Ibid., p.307

[11] There isn’t any doubt about this whatsoever: Power, Faith and Fantasty, Michael Oren, p.491 (Norton, 2007), One Palestine, Complete, Tom Segev, p.496 (Abbacus, 2002), The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p.27 (Penguin, 2000).

[12] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.186 (Vintage, 2001)

[13] Kramer, p.307

[14] Segev, p.496 can also be found here:

[15] Peel Commission (One State, Two State p.87-109) – I understand that one objection was to do with transfer but, as Segev stated, even without that deal would have be turned away because the Arabs rejected partition.

[16] Segev, p.496

[17] Shlaim, p.25

[18] Segev, p.496

[19] Righteous Victims, Morris, p.186

[20] One State, Two State, Benny Morris, p.78 and Shlaim, p.29

[21] Only speculation but given that what Ben-Gurion would have done in the absence of Arab rejectionism being unknown, it is the only thing I can do.